New Delhi : Supreme Court roughs up Centre in connection with alleged usage of Pegasus spyware to snoop citizens. Following Centre’s submission that no further details could be divulged owing to national security concerns, the apex court insisted it should come clear on aspects not related to national security.
The ruling came from Bench comprising Chief Justice NV Raman hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations submitted by MP John Brittas and others seeking investigations into the alleged hacking.
In its affidavit, the centre stated it can’t be sure if Pegasus was put to use and that the matter can’t be discussed further. However, the Bench insisted for details on Pegasus with due clarification on whether or not the Centre purchased Pegasus malware.
The crux is if a group of select individuals were placed under surveillance using Pegasus software in violation to their rights of privacy. If centre refuses to submit added affidavit, an interim ruling from court will become inevitable, the Bench observed, adding that, further action will be decided by the court.
The government is not ready to divulge truth even to the court, said Kapil Sibal, the lawyer appearing on behalf of petitioners. The central govt has acknowledged that phones belonging to 120 persons were hacked using Pegasus. If these occurred without the knowledge of the government, has it pursued any action against NSO, Sibal asked.
Adv. Shyam Diwan, also appearing for the petitioners, urged the apex court to issue directive to the Cabinet Secretary to divulge facts on the topic. If the hacking using malware was carried out by other agencies, it is a matter of grave concern for the centre. However, if the government itself is mired in the issue, the act amounts to constitutional violation, Diwan added.